Rapid City hosting public meeting on downtown parking ordinances

RAPID CITY, SD-  Rapid City is hosting an information meeting on proposed ordinance changes to downtown parking, the latest in a series of public information and feedback sessions on downtown parking in the past two years. The meeting will be held Thursday, May 2 from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. at City Hall in the Third Floor East Conference Room.

The public is invited to the meeting, which is hosted by the City’s Department of Community Development.

“Proposed ordinance changes are currently moving through the City Council and these information sessions are the latest opportunity to share specifics about the proposed ordinance and ordinance revisions and to address questions from the public and business community,” said Sarah Hanzel, City Long-Range Planner.

The City has been reviewing and exploring options to modernize and bring improvements and upgrades to the City’s outdated parking permit and meter system. The proposed ordinance comes after a lengthy consultative and review process over the past two years which has included several public open houses, presentations and a three-month pilot project.

“The ordinance under Council review has come in response to long-standing complaints and concerns about too few available parking spaces in the downtown core, employees and residents using valuable customer parking and other issues,” said Mayor Steve Allender. “In addition, with the long-term city plans calling for ‘housing everywhere’ and a rising interest in downtown living, it is critical we understand our parking capacity and use it in the most efficient manner.”

The plan as written, calls for two-hour limits for some spots downtown. The areas around the Hotel Alex Johnson will have digital parking meters. The meters will be able to accept coins, cash and credit cards. The plan also includes on-street parking passes for people who work downtown, as well as an increase to $25 for parking fines.

Many business owners take issue with how the boundaries will affect their flow of customers.

“People that want to avoid paying the meters will go to the first spots they see without meters, which is ours and will take up our parking spots, clogging them up for our customers,” said Erin Kreuger, a co-owner of 5th and Main Furniture, which is located directly outside the boundary for metered parking.

City staff describes the ordinance as a ‘flexible document’ that can be changed as new needs come up, but many merchants are skeptical.

“We need to be able to predict what’s happening and we can’t predict what they do,” said Kreuger. “We can’t predict where they park and what they’re going to do for traffic patterns.”

The Downtown Parking Advisory Board made up of business owners and community members will spearhead any changes.

Anyone with questions should contact the Community Development Department at 394-4120.

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